Rioters burn tyres on Amiralsgatan, Malmö on Friday night. Photo: TT
Well over 300 rioters were on Malmö's Amiralsgatan street, south of the Rosengård Centrum shopping centre, smashing bus shelters, overturning lampposts and destroying billboards.
According to Malmö police, about 15 suspected rioters were arrested during the night, in violence which broke out in southern Sweden after a Koran-burning rally by far-extremists. Rasmus Paludan, leader of Denmark's far-Right anti-immigration Hard Line party was blocked from attending.
All of those arrested were released on Saturday morning. Police told The Local that about 13 people were likely to be charged with rioting offences, and told Sydsvenskan that they were currently looking for a few individuals who they suspected of encouraging young men at a peaceful demonstration to turn violent.
“It's not right,” Malmo resident Shahed told the SVT public broadcaster. “But it wouldn't have happened if they hadn't burnt the Koran,” he added.
Rasmus Paludan, who leads the far-right Danish anti-immigration party Hard Line, was due to travel to Malmo to speak at Friday's event, which was being held on the same day as main weekly prayers for Muslims.
But authorities pre-empted Paludan's arrival by announcing he had been banned from entering Sweden for two years. He was later arrested near Malmo.
“We suspect that he was going to break the law in Sweden,” Calle Persson, spokesman for the police in Malmo told AFP.
“There was also a risk that his behaviour… would pose a threat to society.”
But his supporters went ahead with the rally, during which six people were arrested for inciting racial hatred.
“It hurts,” Salim Mohammed Ali, a Muslim resident of Malmo for over 20 years, told SVT on Saturday.
“People get angry and I understand that, but there are other ways of doing things,” he added.
Paludan last year attracted media attention for burning a Koran wrapped in bacon — a meat that is anathema for Muslims.
Malmo is an industrial city of 320,000 inhabitants. In 2017, more than half the city's population, 53.6 percent, were either foreign-born or had at least one foreign-born parent.
The riot started at around 7pm and continued up until 3am in the morning.
The trouble flared after an incident earlier in the day in which members of Denmark's far-right Hard Line (Stram Kurs) party burned a copy of the Islamic holy book in the Malmö district of Emilstorp.
Police blocked off the street at the crossroads with Norra Grängebergsgatan, with the police presence increasing through the night until there were dozens of vans, several of which were armoured riot vans.
Rioters pelted the police with stones, street furniture, burnt tyres and fired off fireworks, flares and bangers.
“No member of the public has been wounded, but a few police officers are lightly wounded. Things have just been raining down on them,” Söderberg told TT.
Patric Fors, another police spokesperson, said that police would be out on the streets of Rosengård on Saturday morning.
“We have kept checks out there during the night but it remained calm, now this morning we're going to put in place confidence-building measures. Police will be moving around on feed, and talking with residents,” he told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
Samir Muric, a Malmö imam, condemned the rioters on his Facebook page.
“Those who are acting in this way have nothing to do with Islam,” he wrote. Their shouts filled with 'la ilaha ill Allah' and 'Allahu Akbar' are just outbursts that they do not mean, because if they really meant that, they wouldn't have acted like this.”
He said he was against all forms of burning “whether it's of the Koran or of tyres and crates”.